Prior to RTSA, Delgado said, “there was no differentiation, and teachers were seeing themselves as an extension of probation, versus leaders in education.”
Now, students are at the center of a challenging academic program. The five key elements of the RTSA model are:
• Core academics for high school graduation
• Project-based, thematic learning
• Pathways to higher education
• Instructional and leadership coaching
• Community partnerships to enhance curriculum
The RTSA model uses the Northwest Evaluation Association assessment to measure growth in math and reading. The tests are administered every 60 days, and show that on average students are demonstrating about one year of growth in English language-arts and a half-year of growth in math during each test period.
One of just a handful of efforts across the nation to address the inadequacies of education programs for youth in detention centers, RTSA won the Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association in 2013. Delgado also received the Executive Leadership Award from CCSESA in 2013.
RTSA’s defining feature is its Thematic, Interdisciplinary and Project-Based curriculum, or TIP. Students study subjects through related social-emotional themes across all disciplines. The themes relate to each other and build on previous themes.
RTSA instructors use differentiated instructional strategies in the classroom, in addition to research-based intervention programs designed to deliver grade-level curriculum in a meaningful way. Co-curricular programs such as Read 180, Math 180 and Credit Recovery help identify and address learning gaps and credit deficiencies.
LACOE has developed a rigorous, three-year process to officially certify a school site as a Road to Success Academy. There is currently one fully certified school, at Camps Scott-Scudder in Saugus. All of the county’s other juvenile court schools are in various stages of implementation now and should be fully certified between the end of this year and 2017. A competitive grant program assists schools in seeking certification, ensuring buy-in from school staff.
At least 1,800 incarcerated and at-risk youth depend on LACOE’s juvenile court school programs at 13 different sites.